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Author: Murray McGrath
Title: An Optical Illusion

The Nature Cure Story is one of discovery by people with the incentive and open-minded attitude to see beyond the orthodox. I first became interested, approximately thirty-five years ago, after talking with Peter Fenton in the cafe of William Mowat Thomson's Yoga Centre. I then had a consultation with Leslie Thomson and being impressed with the logic of the approach, resolved to live it and convert everyone else to it. Success in both parts was less than 100%.

Then, as is my wont, my mind started its search for a better understanding. Since then, and in what I believe to be true "Nature Cure" tradition, the search has continued and the understanding has developed. I do feel strongly about the importance and future of the Kingston Nature Cure movement. My view is that the description: "An Alternative to Medicine" best describes the approach. The guiding, teaching, enabling function, as I believe existed in Kingston, is what it is about. Of course, a doctor would maintain that she / he fulfils this role. But the pressure to treat medically comes from many directions and so the usual pattern is: patient feels ill, goes to the doctor who makes a diagnosis and prescribes a treatment. This is sometimes appropriate but most of the time it is not.Usually, however, neither party considers the latter possibility. The same basic pattern applies to alternative / complementary medicine.

So, fundamentally, the role of the KNC practitioner should be assessing people's real needs from a properly holistic perspective, then offering appropriate guidance. The first question to be asked is: "Does the patient need medical treatment of any description?" In most cases, "No" is the confident answer. Then follows reassurance, explanation and advice. Where there is a medical need an appropriate referral should be made and the value of the KNC approach even in conjunction with orthodox or other medical treatment should not be forgotten. However individual cases which seem the same, may require different answers. The same symptoms in different people may have quite different causes. Even the same causes may require different approaches for different people. The KNC practitioner must be very skilled and perceptive to work out what is best in each case. Sometimes it may only be possible for the patient him or herself to find the best way forward.

Having established that there is no medical need, and given appropriate explanation and advice, the KNC practitioner's role is to facilitate the first and continuing (as needed) steps on the path to achieving and maintaining genuine health. The path is of course a personal one and therefore unique to each person. Central to the teaching should be encouragement to build confidence in the philosophy and to find ones own way of living it. Indeed confidence is the key.The first requirement is the practitioner's confidence in him/herself, which has to come from proper training and experience. Then follows confidence of the patient in the practitioner, such that reassurance is genuinely reassuring and which enables him/her to lead the patient towards confident understanding of their health, its ups and downs and what is required to stay healthy. At the root of successfully living the KNC way are: understanding a truly holistic perspective, and appreciating its importance, a real seeking for causes, (how many "Why's can you ask?) and a preparedness to accept that sometimes time must pass and some unpleasantness must be tolerated for continuing genuine health.

Politically, there could be a place for KNC as a genuine alternative to medicine, reducing the load on the NHS. It seems to me that the best way forward is to appeal to politicians in power since there is huge potential for them to save healthcare costs. Drug companies would be the most powerful opponents to such a route, of course. There is almost certainly no mileage in trying to persuade the medical profession, apart, that is, from some of the more enlightened members of the Holistic Medical Association who might be prevailed upon to support the proposal's basic contention. The argument is that in the same way as a very large number of people are using alternative medicine, presumably to avoid scientific medicine, a significant proportion of them are very likely to choose the alternative to medicine, the approach concerned with health rather than illness. And, of course, "choice" is a key word in the politician's vocabulary nowadays, is it not?

So, the KNC approach would be seen as a new profession whose practitioners would be very well qualified and experienced in assessing patients at all levels. Their aim, however, would be to enable patients to become free, most of the time, from the need for medical treatment of any kind.

A revolution in healthcare! This new profession needs a name.